Mustaqbal Rejects Israeli 'Blackmail' on Offshore Gas Block

Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc on Tuesday stressed “Lebanon's ultimate right to sign an agreement for exploration and drilling in Block 9,” describing the offshore gas block as “an inseparable part of Lebanon's Exclusive Economic Zone.”

“Lebanon had long ago and according to norms informed the U.N. and international authorities of the borders of its EEZ,” the bloc reminded in a statement issued after its weekly meeting.

Describing Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's remarks on the gas block as “an attempt at intimidation, hegemony, blackmail and domination against Lebanon,” Mustaqbal said it “strongly stands by the Lebanese state and all its institutions as they confront the Israeli government's allegations and threats.”

It also emphasized that Lieberman's remarks “are totally rejected by the whole of Lebanon and its government.”

Lieberman had on Wednesday described as "very provocative" Lebanon's tender on exploring gas in Block 9. This gas field "is by all accounts ours," the Israeli minister claimed.

Lebanon in December approved a bid for offshore oil and gas exploration off its Mediterranean coast -- a vision for years hampered by political instability and domestic wrangling.

That deal was awarded to the only bidder, an international consortium including France's Total and Russia's Novatek.

Lebanese officials say the country will start exploratory offshore drilling in 2019.

A major finding in Lebanon's southernmost waters could raise the possibility of a dispute with Israel, which is developing a number of offshore gas deposits, with one large field, Tamar, already producing gas, and the larger Leviathan field set to go online next year.

Source: Naharnet

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